Sox and Orioles Have Similar Teams

People like to make a big deal about pitching, especially starting pitching. Some go so far as to claim that pitching is 75 percent of the game. Well, the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles are the two best teams in the AL East at the moment, and neither one has an ounce of pitching. In fact, the Red Sox and Orioles have similar teams, which might explain why they’re only one game apart in the standings.

Baltimore and Boston are built to mash, with above-average bats at almost every positionSox and Orioles Have Similar Teams. Their lineups run deep with power, so it’s not surprising that they’re the American League’s top two teams in terms of slugging percentage. Sluggers also tend to be adept at getting on base, and sure enough both offenses sport one of the three best team on-base percentages in the American League. One key difference is that the Sox have speed, whereas the Orioles don’t. Boston ranks fourth in the AL in stolen bases with 35, nearly four times Baltimore’s last-place total of nine.

Their rotations are also similarly constructed. Both rely on an ace, David Price for Boston and Chris Tillman for Baltimore, and have strong number twos as well in Steven Wright and Kevin Gausman. Beyond them, however, quality starts have been hard to come by. Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly need fixing in Boston, while Mike Wright and Ubaldo Jimenez aren’t the answer for Baltimore. Starting pitching is a clear weakness for both teams and something each needs to address as the trade deadline approaches.

Thankfully, both have strong bullpens to compensate for their lackluster starters. The Red Sox have a formidable late-game trio of Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara, and Craig Kimbrel, while the Orioles have a fantastic triumvirate of their own in Dylan Bundy, Darren O’Day, and Zach Britton. Both teams are tough to beat when they have a lead in the late innings.

The Sox and Orioles have similar teams, so it’s fitting that they just split a four-game series at Camden Yards while scoring the exact same amount of runs. Their lineups beat the crap out of each other, culminating in two wild slugfests on Wednesday and Thursday night. Expect the season to play out in a similar fashion as both clubs duke it out for the top spot in the AL East.

Daniel Nava Begins Rehab Assignment with PawSox

The PawSox got yet another player added to their roster for a rehab assignment this week as Daniel Nava was sent to Pawtucket to play starting on Thursday night. Nava was really lost in the shuffle with the Red Sox roster early on in the year and only collected 73 plate appearances, and has been on the disabled list since May 26 with a thumb bruise.

Nava had a great year in 2013 platooning in left field with Jonny Gomes but struggled last Daniel Navaseason even being optioned to Pawtucket in early May. Nava eventually made his way back to the major league roster but became more of a bench player. The versatility Nava serves is something that does not go unnoticed by Red Sox brass as he plays left and right field well and mixes in first base. Playing the left field wall as many have realized this year with Hanley Ramirez out there is not something that can be taken for granted.

The roster crunch will continue as Shane Victorino just finished up a rehab stint and is expected to be activated this weekend. Ryan Haniagan was activated in time for Thursday night’s blowout against the Blue Jays likely meaning a catcher will lose their roster spot. Which makes me you think, will Nava even have a roster spot when his rehab stint is over?

The chances are likely no but an injury could always occur and have Nava taken advantage of an unfortunate circumstance for someone else. Hanley Ramirez does not look like he will be going on the disabled list soon after a week off with a bruised wrist from a line drive. Shane Victorino hasn’t been healthy for much of his time with the Red Sox, so he might not be on the roster for long. Alejandro De Aza is someone who needs to stay on the Red Sox team as he looks to have provided some sort of spark for the team even if he is just a fourth outfielder on a good team he is a veteran.

Much has been made of Mike Napoli’s struggles this year and John Farrell has said they will stick with him as he has been dropped to as low as 8th in the lineup on some occasions. Nava could take advantage of some playing time if he can get it with Napoli continuing to hit under .200 and striking out a prolific rate as he continues to think the umpires are out to get him with the strike zone.

Daniel Nava began a rehab assignment with the PawSox on Thursday night, but a spot on the Red Sox roster when he is ready to be activated might be his for the taking.

Predicting Mookie Betts’ Future Numbers

Mookie Betts

It’s often foolish to make predictions about young players with a paucity of big league experience, but anybody who has watched the opening salvo of Mookie Betts’ career knows just how much the kid makes you dream.

Barely sixty games into his enthralling Red Sox tenure, the 22-year old Betts has already left a significant footprint in Boston sports lore. For instance, last August, he became the youngest Red Sox player to hit a Grand Slam in 49 years. Similarly, just last week, he became the team’s youngest Opening Day lead off hitter since Rico Petrocelli in 1965, and its youngest Opening Day center fielder since Tony Conigliaro in 1964. Moreover, Betts’ bomb off of Cole Hamels made him the third-youngest player ever to homer for the Red Sox in a sMookie Bettseason opener. Quite simply, he’s doing things which very few people his age have ever done, setting the tone for the fabled Red Sox and garnering nationwide attention.

But, more than that, Mookie is chasing history, thanks to an awe-inspiring start that has the baseball universe wondering just how far this precociously talented starlet may go. Accordingly, it’s only appropriate that we have a little fun with the numbers, and try to project, moving forward, what records Betts may break, and where his career may wind up, in a historical context.

Right now, through the first 59 games of his Major League career, Mookie has a .281/.355/.446 slash line, with 63 hits, 14 doubles, 7 home runs, 26 RBI, 10 stolen bases, 24 walks and 38 runs scored. By extrapolating that performance to represent a typical 162-game season, we see that Betts will, on average, produce 173 hits, 38 doubles, 19 home runs, 71 RBI, 27 stolen bases, 66 walks and 104 runs scored per year, numbers which ought to garner him a smattering of MVP votes.

However, the real fun begins when we expand that baseline seasonal output to represent a 15-year career. For instance, if he played fifteen full seasons at the present rate, Mookie would wind up with 2,595 hits, 570 doubles, 285 home runs, 1,065 RBI, 405 stolen bases, 990 walks and 1,560 runs scored. Presuming he stayed with the Red Sox for life, those numbers would place him 3rd, 2nd, 6th, 7th, 1st, 5th and 3rd in franchise history in the aforementioned, respective categories.

Yet, due to his early arrival in the Major Leagues as a 21-year old, Betts figures to have a legitimate opportunity to play more than fifteen full seasons. Thus, for arguments sake, let’s extrapolate his average baseline numbers to encompass twenty full big league seasons. The results? A remarkable 3,460 hits, 760 doubles, 380 home runs, 1,470 RBI, 540 stolen bases, 1,320 walks and 2,080 runs scored. That’s more home runs than Joe DiMaggio, more RBI than Mark McGwire, more stolen bases than Ichiro Suzuki, and more hits than Honus Wagner, Willie Mays and Tony Gwynn.

Of course, I’m aware the math is more than a little flawed, and, yes, I know it’s highly unlikely that Betts’ career will follow such a linear track. But, just for a moment, as he blazes a trail through the American League, it’s tremendous fun to marvel at the numbers and daydream about the potential. According to the somewhat skewed, yet nonetheless entertaining, projected career stats, right now, in Mookie Betts, the Sox have a cornerstone player with Jeter’s stroke, Manny’s patience, Rice’s power, Bonds’ speed, and Vlad Guerrero’s clutch production, which begs one question: who on Earth would trade all that for Cole *Bleeping* Hamels?

Clay Buchholz and co. set to rehab

Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz, Will Middlebrooks, and Shane Victorino are all set to start rehab assignments this weekend, which in theory should help the struggling Red Sox. Buchholz was shelved with a knee issue, Middlebrooks with a broken finger, and Victorino with a strained hamstring.

Buchholz may have been dealing with a couple physical ailments, but his trip to the DL may have helped his mind more than anything. After going on what may have been his worst stretch of his career, he needed a break one way or another. There is a chance we could see the lights-out Buchholz, but there’s probably a better chance we see something in between that and what we saw earlier this year. I am not quite sure he will ever pitch like he did at the beginning of last year again, but I assume he will be better than the worst starting pitcher in the big leagues, which is what he was when he was put on the DL. And that isn’t an exaggeration either! Out of every full time starter in the bigs, he had the worst ERA and WHIP.

From the offensive side, Victorino and Middlebrooks will slowly make their way back to the team over the next week or so. Middlebrooks may not even have a spot on the team, but the Sox desperately need Victorino’s bat back in the outfield. While he was only hitting .242, that would still peg him atop the Sox outfield as far as average goes (Brock Holt not included). His lingering hamstring problems are concerning though, leaving fans wondering just how long he will be able to stay healthy.

Middlebrooks might have one last chance to make an impact on the Sox after his rehab stint. The Red Sox desperately need some pop in the lower part of the lineup and Middlebrooks has the ability to provide it. With Stephen Drew already battling some injuries of his own, Middlebrooks could get some chances in this mess of a lineup. Not to mention, Stephen Drew can’t exactly hit lefties and Jonathan Herrera doesn’t add anything to the bottom of the order other than a sac bunt or two. If Middlebrooks continues to chase breaking balls down and away though, consider him gone by the trade deadline.

Hopefully the addition of three major league players can help the Red Sox become a bit more consistent. If the offense can put up more than one run per series, which they did in Baltimore, maybe they can string together some wins. They saw what can happen if they get timely hitting during their seven game winning streak, so with Napoli back and more help coming, hopefully a few more winning streaks go in Boston’s favor
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Sox Sign Infielder Ryan Roberts

Sox Sign Infielder Ryan Roberts

The Red Sox have signed veteran infielder Ryan Roberts to a Major-League contract today and have added him to the 25-man roster.

The 33-year old spent the entire 2013 season with the Tampa Bay Rays splitting time between AAA and the Major League level.

The need for a move escalated over the weekend after the team added starting third baseman Will Middlebrooks to the 15-day disabled list.

Middlebrooks has been diagnosed with a Grade-1 calf strain and now joins outfielder Shane Victorino on the DL.

The injury to Middlebrooks is not considered to be serious, but is expected to keep the slugger sidelined for up to three weeks.

The addition of Roberts gives the Sox some much needed infield bench depth and a viable short-term injury replacement for Middlebrooks.

Roberts is capable of playing six positions, but has seen the bulk of his playing time at third base with 1,737 innings logged over 217 games including 195 starts.

At third base, for his career, Roberts features a 5.9 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) and a .958 fielding percentage.

In 2013, Roberts hit .247 with five home runs and 17 RBI over 60 games for the Rays.

To make room for Roberts on the roster, the Red Sox optioned Brock Holt to AAA Pawtucket and transferred pitcher Steven Wright to the 60-Day DL.

New Sox utility man Jonathan Herrera will make his third-straight start at third base tonight against the Texas Rangers.